Growing plants that are resistant to the destructive Ash dieback fungus is essential if the iconic British trees are to survive, the study finds
- Ash dieback came from Europe to the UK seven years ago and cannot be cured
- It leaves diamond-shaped scars on bark and can decimate tree populations
- With the current level of resistance, about one in 100 ash trees survives the virus
- If one in 10 trees were tolerant, the population would be reduced to a third of its size
Conservationists must breed trees that are resistant to ashes to save Britain from the killer.
Ash dieback threatens to wipe out the 125 million ash trees of the UK, but about one in 100 can fight the epidemic.
They may have a genetic advantage that may cause their leaves to die early in the fall, preventing the fungus from nesting in leaves and infecting a tree.
A British scientist has now established that resistant trees can prevent millions of deaths.
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Conservationists need to breed trees resistant to ashes to save Britain from the cutthroat fungus (photo)
With the current level of resistance, meaning that about one in 100 ash trees survives the ash-dieback virus, Professor Matthew Evans says that 95% of the trees were probably wiped out by the end of the century.
But if one in 10 British trees were tolerant to axis dieback, the aspopulation could be reduced to only a third of its current size.
Professor Evans, who created a computer model for tree deaths, concludes that sufficiently resistant trees will not appear alone.
Ash trees are pollinated by the wind, so pollen from a non-resistant tree can land on a resistant tree, meaning that the & # 39; helicopter & # 39; helicopter seeds from the parent tree may not be able to die off ashes keep out.
This is why some experts & # 39; selectively breed & # 39; support by taking cuttings or pollinating artificial trees.
Professor Evans, from the University of Hong Kong, states: & # 39; As other authors have suggested, it seems reasonable that selective breeding can play a role in preserving ash forests.
& # 39; The creation of a source of resistant individuals that can be used to increase the number of naturally resistant trees in the population would help increase the chances of sustainability of the population. & # 39;
Ash dieback came from Europe to the UK seven years ago, is incurable and leaves diamond-shaped scars on bark. By dropping leaves from trees, it can spoil 60 percent of trees in forests.
Ash dieback threatens to wipe out the 125 million ash trees of the UK, but about one in 100 can fight the epidemic. This image shows and infected tree
A British scientist has now established that resistant trees can prevent millions of deaths. This image shows a close-up of the fungus
The new study suggests that fungal ash, now one of the most common trees in Britain, can make it more rare than oak, plane, hazel and hawthorn trees.
The computer model, based on Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire, shows a disturbing vision of what would happen if the UK death rate disappeared in the coming decade.
The number will fall by a third in the next century if one in 10 trees is resistant, but 60 percent more trees would die if only five percent were resistant.
If only one percent were resistant, as earlier research suggested in Britain, 90 percent more trees would die. This is based on a high probability that the offspring of trees inherit resistance.
Professor Evans concludes: & # 39; The rapid reduction in the abundance of a species will affect the dynamics of the forest, and the remaining population will be additional attacks of future pests and diseases and / or the evolution of the current disease & # 39;
Nick Atkinson, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Woodland Trust, said: & We welcome all attempts to improve the chances of identifying tolerant or resistant trees, provided that this can be at the expense of resistance to other diseases or other negative effects.
& # 39; We are beginning to see apparently healthy ash trees in areas heavily affected by ADB and the question is to what extent each tolerance is genetically based. & # 39;
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
WHAT IS AS DIEBACK?
Mortality affects ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) and is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, previously known as Chalara fraxinea and Hymenoschyphus pseudoalbidus.
It blocks the water transport systems in trees and causes leaf loss, lesions in the wood and on the bark and ultimately the death of the crown of the tree.
This disease was first described in Poland in 1992 and has since been swept westwards throughout Europe.
It was first identified in Britain in 2012 in the tree nursery and then in 2013 in the wider environment, although it could have been much longer in the country.
The number of confirmed findings continues to increase and distribution is regularly reported by the Forestry Commission.
Young trees are particularly vulnerable and die quickly if they collapse. Older trees can be killed slowly by an annual infection cycle.
Spreading the disease in the UK is probably the result of planting infected tree nursery and wood, but wind-scattered fungal spores also occur.
There are different key signs to watch out for ash trees. All of these symptoms can also be caused by other problems, so the final diagnosis must be made by an expert.
Summer is a good time to look for symptoms, as ash trees will naturally shed their leaves in autumn and winter, making it difficult to identify ashes.
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